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Gillingham head coach Stephen Clemence on their League 2 play-off hopes with three games to go –Barrow head to Priestfield on Saturday

Gillingham head coach Stephen Clemence insists they aren’t giving up on the play-offs.

The Gills start the weekend 12th in League 2 - five points off the play-offs, with three games to play. They have a far inferior goal difference to their rivals and other teams chasing a top-seven spot have an additional game to play.

Head coach Stephen Clemence won’t give up on the play-offs while there is a mathematical chance Picture: Barry Goodwin
Head coach Stephen Clemence won’t give up on the play-offs while there is a mathematical chance Picture: Barry Goodwin

It’s a very unlikely prospect but while there’s hope, Clemence and his players will keep fighting. They take on sixth-placed Barrow this Saturday at home.

He said: “You don’t ever give up, do you? That’s not in my mindset.

“You just have to take care of what’s coming up at the weekend and while it is mathematically possible we’re not giving up, of course.

“You never know what can happen in football. I don’t like talking about what could happen in three games’ times because we have to take care of Saturday. If we win on Saturday the picture could look different again.

“Right now my focus is on giving a really good performance, as good as we can in front of our home supporters, to try and beat Barrow at the weekend.”

The Gills moved up a place to 12th on Thursday, leapfrogging Morecambe after they were docked three points by the Football League for breaching financial regulations.

It’s not a position Clemence is happy about being in.

He said: “We have’t hit our targets and that is why we are where we are in the table, but all I am telling the boys at the moment is to concentrate on the next game.

“We have worked hard in training, I believe they are still right there having a go and we are working on a game-plan to beat Barrow.

“I don’t want to finish the season in the position we are in now and the challenge is to finish as high as we can, and try and win as many of the last three, can we win them all? That has to be the aim. That is what we’ll be trying to do.

League 2 table

“We have got to find that conviction in the box to go and score some goals. I believe we will create chances but if we don’t take them we will get inconsistent results.

“We are unbeaten since around Christmas time at home, we have drawn far too many of them, we should have turned some of them into victories and if we had I think we’d be comfortably in the play-off positions but we haven’t done it, there is no point looking back.

“We do want to send the supporters home as happy as they can be, I know they are never going to be as happy as they want to be at the moment because we haven’t got into the play-offs, at the moment, that could change if we get three good results.

“If we don’t make it this year it will be a difficult one to take because we all thought we could get there but you have to use the feeling of disappointment to drive you and fuel you to go and do better next season, that’s certainly what I’ll be doing and the players should be too.”

Clemence and the team have taken some criticism of late after drifting away from the play-off places. A month ago the Gills were in and out of the top seven but one win in eight has seen them drop to mid-table.

The Gills are third from bottom in the six-game form table.

“I have got petty thick skin,” he said.

“I have been criticised all my life, I am a fighter, I don’t believe I would have had the career I have had if I didn’t know how to fight, that is what I will continue to do,

“The only time I felt we have let ourselves down is the last half an hour against Harrogate, I was very disappointed with that, and obviously when you get beat 5-1 you have to accept criticism.

“Obviously, there has been a lot of criticism come my way and the players and the club, but we have to keep fighting all together and make sure results like that never happen again.”

Looking ahead to weekend visitors Barrow – who have lost their last two – Clemence said: “They are a very stubborn side to play against, the play a mid to deep block and they have good players in the team and a physicality upfront.

“It will be a difficult game, we will have to be patient at times, that is everyone in the stadium, please stay behind the players because they are going to need supporters’ help at the weekend.

“We have worked on some things in the last couple of days which we think can help us and we have to try and overload in certain areas. If we can do that and find a bit of quality in the final third, then I am sure we’ll be right in the game and sure we can go and win the game.”

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